February 26, 2018 (JUBA) – A rebel spokesperson accused the South Sudanese army on Monday of killing a rebel commander in Yei River State in a fresh attack on their positions, ahead of the resumption of peace talks in Addis Ababa.
Major Felix Likambo was killed on Monday morning, according to a statement released on Monday by Col. Lam Paul Gabriel, Deputy Spokesperson of the SPLM-IO Riek Machar.
Likambo was commanding the troops of the armed opposition around Yei area and used as headquarters Yankonye which is located some 5 miles away from Yei town.
“This morning at about 6:00 am SPLA moved out of their trenches in Yei town and attacked SPLA-IO bases at Yankonye (5 miles Yei-Maridi road) and at harvesters (3 miles Yei-Maridi road.) and killed our base commander Maj. Felix Likambo Faustino and wounded one soldier. The fighting spread to the internally displaced population causing more displacements of civilians,” announced Gabriel.
On Friday 23 February, the SPLM-IO accused the South Sudanese army of preparing to launch new attacks on its positions in Yei River state in South Sudan’s Equatoria region.
The rebels last week thought the government was preparing to attack their position in Kajo-Kaji, but Monday’s attack was on Yei.
The rebel spokesman said the attack in which their commander was killed had compelled them to “tactically” pull out from the area to avoid civilian casualties due to crossfire.
“This is an act of provocation and aggression from the regime despite the signed CoH agreement on 21 December 2017,” he said.
Gabriel further claimed that the government has moved troops to Pagak of Maiwut State near the Ethiopian border ahead of a new attack on their fighters.
“The regime has been airlifting troops and military logistics to Pagak since yesterday the 25 February 2018 in preparation to launch coordinated attacks on SPLA IO bases in and around Pagak and Nasir,” he said.
“Therefore, the letter of Maj. Gen Majier Deng Kur to CTSAMM dated 26 February 2018 is just to cover up planned attacks on the SPLA IO positions,” the statement stressed
The rebel group directed their forces to be on alert at all fronts and denounced the regime’s anti-peace campaign. In addition, it called upon the CTSAMM (Ceasefire Transitional Security Arrangement Monitoring Mechanism) to investigate these activities as soon as possible.
No statement was issued by the government confirming or denying the attack on the opposition forces and whether or not its forces bore the responsibility for killing the commander of the rebel in the area.
The government and the SPLM-IO signed a cessation of hostilities on 21 December 2017 but they didn’t honour the agreement. The mediators the African Union and the Troika countries warned they would impose sanctions on the truce violators if the fighting resumes again.